The new omicron variant triggers world panic and triggers travel ban

On Friday, the market fell sharply as countries raced to stop air travel. Scientists convened an emergency meeting to weigh the exact risks. This is largely unknown. The discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus has brought most of the world Got chills.

A team from the World Health Organization named the variant “omicron” and classified it as a highly contagious virus, in the same category as the delta variant. The WHO stated that this variant may pose a greater risk than delta, which is the most popular variant in the world and has caused a relentless wave of infections on all continents.

The WHO said that early evidence suggests that compared with other highly contagious variants, the risk of re-infection is increased. This means that people who have contracted COVID-19 and recovered may be infected again.

In response, the United States and Canada joined the European Union and several other countries to impose travel restrictions on tourists from Southern Africa.

The White House said that starting Monday, the United States will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the region. It did not provide details, except that these restrictions do not apply to returning US citizens or permanent residents, who will continue to be required to test negative before traveling.

Before getting a better understanding of the mutations that originated in Southern Africa, medical experts including the World Health Organization warn against overreaction. However, nearly two years after COVID-19 emerged and triggered a pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people worldwide, a nervous world began to worry about the worst.

“We must act as soon as possible,” British Health Minister Sajid Javid told lawmakers.

There is no direct indication as to whether the mutation will cause more serious disease. South African experts say that, like other variants, some infected people show no symptoms. The WHO team of experts borrowed the Greek alphabet when naming the variant omicron, just as it did for the early major variants of the virus.

Although some genetic changes seem worrying, it is unclear whether this new variant poses a major threat to public health. Some of the previous variants, such as the beta variant, were initially related to scientists but did not spread very far.

The 27-member European Union temporarily banned air travel from southern Africa, and stock markets in Asia, Europe and the United States plummeted. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 1,000 points. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 2.3%, its worst day since February. Oil prices plummeted by nearly 12%.

German Health Minister Jens Spann said: “The last thing we need is the introduction of a new variant, which will cause more problems.” The recent surge in cases in EU member states.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that flights will “must be suspended until we have a clear understanding of the dangers caused by this new variant, and passengers returning from the area should comply with strict quarantine regulations.”

She insisted on being extremely cautious and warned that “mutations may lead to the emergence and spread of more worrying variants of the virus, which may spread to the world within a few months.”

Belgium became the first EU country to announce this variant case.

“This is a dubious variant,” said Health Secretary Frank Van den Brock. “We don’t know if this is a very dangerous variant.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease expert in the US government, said that it has not been discovered in the United States. He told CNN that the variant “seems to be spreading at a fairly fast rate” abroad. Although it may be more infectious and vaccine resistant than other variants, “we are not sure yet.”

According to Marc Van Ranst, a professor who works for science, the Belgian case shows how complicated the spread of the variant is. The case involved a traveler who returned to Belgium from Egypt on November 11. Mild symptoms did not appear until Monday. Overseeing the Belgian government’s response to COVID-19.

Israel, one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, announced on Friday that it also found the first case of the new variant in a traveler returning from Malawi. The passenger and two other suspected cases were quarantined. Israel said all three were vaccinated, but officials are investigating the exact vaccination status of travelers.

After a 10-hour overnight trip, passengers on KLM flight 598 from Cape Town, South Africa to Amsterdam were detained for four hours on the edge of the runway at Schiphol Airport on Friday morning, waiting for a special test. Passengers on the flight from Johannesburg are also being quarantined and tested.

“This is ridiculous. If we hadn’t spotted this terrible bug before, we would have caught it now,” said Francesca de’ Medici, a passenger on the flight, a Roman art consultant and passenger.

Some experts say that the emergence of this variant indicates that the stockpiling of vaccines in wealthy countries may prolong the pandemic.

Less than 6% of people in Africa are fully immunized against COVID-19, and millions of health workers and vulnerable groups have not yet received a dose of the vaccine. These conditions can accelerate the spread of the virus and provide more opportunities for it to evolve into a dangerous variant.

Michael Hyde, a senior researcher in global health at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, said: “This is one of the consequences of the unfair launch of vaccines, and it is also the reason why rich countries grabbing excess vaccines will inevitably bounce back to all of us at some point.” He urged the leaders of the G20 to “go beyond vague promises and truly deliver on their promise to share the dose.”

The new variant has increased investor anxiety that months of progress involving COVID-19 may be reversed.

Jeffrey Halley of Oanda, a foreign exchange broker, said: “Investors may shoot first and then ask questions until they know more.”

As a sign of how worried Wall Street has become, the market’s so-called fear indicator VIX rose 48% to 26.91. This is the highest reading of the volatility index since January before the vaccine was widely distributed.

Before the EU announced the news, Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s head of emergency, warned against “subconsciously reacting.”

Ryan said: “We have seen in the past that once someone mentions any kind of change, everyone is closing the border and restricting travel.” “It is very important that we stay open and stay focused.”

The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees and strongly opposes any travel ban on countries reporting new variants. It said past experience has shown that such travel bans “have not produced meaningful results”.

However, hours after the government took similar measures, the United States announced restrictions on tourists from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

Britain banned flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries at noon on Friday, and announced that anyone who has recently arrived from these countries will be required to be tested for the coronavirus.

Canada prohibits entry to all foreigners who have travelled to Southern Africa in the past two weeks.

The Japanese government announced that Japanese nationals from Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, and Lesotho must be quarantined in government residences for 10 days and undergo three COVID-19 tests during this period. Japan is not yet open to foreigners.

Fauci said that US public health officials were talking to colleagues in South Africa on Friday. “We want to find out what happened between the scientists.”

The WHO technical working group stated that the coronavirus infection rate in Europe has risen by 11% in the past week. This is the only region in the world where COVID-19 continues to rise.

Dr. Hans Kruger, WHO’s European Director, warned that if emergency measures are not taken, there may be 700,000 more deaths on the European continent by spring.

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